Making Time for Project-Based Learning

I’ve been at the college level for a little over three years and every time I visit one of my college students in the midst of their practicum, I am struck by how fast time moves in a classroom. It’s easy as a professor to forget the frantic pace, with the bells and the announcements […]

Five Structures for Helping Students Learn Project Management

If we want students to think like artists, entrepreneurs, and engineers, they need the chance to design real projects. But this also requires students to learn how to engage in project management. The following is a short video on the project management process: Listen to the Podcast If you enjoy this blog but you’d like […]

5 Myths About Classroom Management in PBL

I want to make something clear before we dive into this topic. I made huge mistakes in classroom management as a teacher. I let certain disruptive behaviors go unchecked because I was tired and I didn’t want to put out another fire. I had moments when I shamed a student or yelled at a class. […]

Research Should Be Fun (Why Research and PBL Are a Great Combination)

I remember the first time we did a PBL unit and I asked students to fill out a survey on their favorite and least favorite parts. Overwhelmingly, students described dreading the research process. Similarly, when we first used design thinking, students asked me why we had to do research instead of just coming up with […]

What can food trucks teach us about project-based learning?

When we think of innovative companies, it’s easy to imagine an open-air tech startup with ping pong tables and free drinks and huge windows and chairs so modern you’re not sure how you’re supposed to sit in them or look at them. Sometimes I look at those spaces and think, “Man, I wish schools were more […]

Seven Ways to Boost Collaboration in P.B.L.

Over the last month, we have been taking a deep dive into project-based learning. One of the most frequent questions I hear about PBL is “how do we get all of the members to participate in group projects?” Both elementary and secondary education teachers ask this question. Teachers in private and public schools share this […]

Students Need to Solve Real Problems

In the 1980s, somebody decided that haircuts were way too messy. So, they combined a hair trimmer with a vacuum cleaner and we ended up with the Flowbee. I remember begging my parents for a Flowbee and they said “no,” because they thought I would use it on the dog. And they were right. But […]

How Does Assessment Work in a P.B.L. Unit?

Assessment is everywhere. Visit a basketball court or a skate park or a rock climbing gym and you might just miss something happening all around. Assessment. The same is true of that group of kids huddled around their devices building a shared world in Minecraft or maneuvering around a kitchen experimenting with a new recipe […]

Using a Wonder Week to Spark Student Inquiry

My friend George Couros once said, “If students leave school less curious than when they have started, we have failed them.” I tend to agree. I’ve never heard of a cosmologist who says, “I’m done with the universe. No more questions here.” I’ve also never seen an engineer who says, “I’m an expert now. I […]

How Do You Teach to the Standards When Doing Project-Based Learning?

It’s easy to remember the highlight reels of the project-based approach I used when I taught eighth grade. I think about the moment we finished our second mural and my students were so excited they started spontaneously cheering or the moment students asked thoughtful questions to our guests during the immigration documentary or the way […]